By Open Doors 17 July 2023 6 MIN

The Impact of Persecution Preparedness Training

Cho’s perilous mission to get Bibles to remote communities.

Cho* is a man on a motorbike. He’s also a man on a mission.

May it be under the scorching sun or torrential rain, past dirt roads, or even at the edge of towering cliffs, you can find him revving his engine, with a box of persecution preparedness training materials on his back, excited to meet with the people of God.

It’s a ten to twelve hour motorbike ride.

Every so often, Open Doors local partner, Cho, leaves his family – his wife, three daughters, and two sons – to minister to believers hungry for the Word of God in remote, often hard to reach areas.

He gears up for the road trip with a flashlight in his backpack and a machete strapped to his seat. It’s meant to clear out the twigs and branches along his path, “But it’s also for protection, just in case,” he quips.

Cho, and many others just like him, are the courageous local partners you support when you give to Open Doors.

The Reality for Christians in Myanmar

Because Myanmar is still experiencing civil war, there are checkpoints at almost every kilometre. There are military checkpoints requiring travellers to pay a toll, as well as checkpoints led by civilian rebels. Most times, it is young men with guns – barely 16 – checking passers-by for identification. The air around Cho is thick with tension – shootings can happen at any second, or at any point, a bomb could explode.

two people packing persecution preparedness training materials

“When we are preparing for the journey, for the traveling, my wife is always worried about me,” the short, stocky man with a kind face in his late 40s, shares. “She’s brighter than me and makes decisions quickly, so she prepares me.

“She advises me to be careful about how I speak when I preach the gospel. I must be careful how I act. She says, ‘Leave fast, and reach them fast’, and she’s praying for me all the time. She urges our children, ‘You have to pray for your father. He is going to a training, so you need to pray for him.’

“She worries about me facing dangers like persecution: ‘You don’t know what will come to you, so you need to be careful.’

Cho says his wife would often tell him that his children would tend to wonder out loud when he’s gone:

“Is my father alive, or is he dead?”

For Cho, it is God’s grace that keeps him safe along the road. Though it’s tough to leave family behind, he commits to the risky journey to serve the Lord. 

Family waving goodbye as man leaves on motorbike for training

A Treacherous Journey

Apart from the ongoing war, the weather can also be treacherous: “When it rains, I need to wear a raincoat every time and the roads get slippery or muddy. There are times I need to cross rivers without a bridge, sometimes even at night.

“It is very slippery, and the slopes are steep. I need to get off the motorbike I’m riding. The journey takes at least one day, something like 10 to 12 hours. And the training takes four days. For the whole journey – to come and go – it takes one week. It’s very dangerous to go alone.”

Thankfully, the Lord provided Cho a traveling companion in the young pastor, Brother Aung Aung*.

“I’m mentoring Brother Aung Aung to come to the training with me and do persecution preparedness. I’m bringing him every time I’m travelling. I teach him, and now we go together. He is very bright – he has the mind and heart to learn. So now, I have a helper and it is easier for me to travel. I’m not alone anymore.”

Why Risk It?

Being a Christian in Myanmar can be tough. This is why Cho has a heart for his people.

“In our identity card, it is written: Our tribe name is Chin and religion is Christian. When people in Myanmar see it, they don’t give us the priority. We are discriminated. This is the first thing we experience in Myanmar. They do not care about us.”

The military rule made it worse for Cho and his people – unknown to many, the Myanmar military has a long history of oppression with the Chin Christian tribe in the Chin, Kayah, and Kachin States way before the 2-year coup. The violence Cho’s people have had to face in the hands of the military has been ongoing for decades. Chin churches have been forced to close down, crosses were taken down from church roofs, and believers have been beaten and threatened constantly.

“When the military comes to our village, they force us to carry their weapons. They make us carry these heavy loads day and night without pay, and our families suffer loneliness without their fathers. They pray for us – this is all our families can do.”

“They do not care about Sundays, our worship days, also. We need to follow them everywhere and obey them. We don’t have a choice.”

The Impact of Persecution Preparedness Training

Person in a wide brim hat reading their Bible

Even though Cho’s heart was filled with anger, the Lord transformed him in 2008 when he was invited to attend a persecution preparedness training.

“What really struck me during persecution preparedness training is the teaching to not to take revenge, and to love our enemy. Especially towards the military who persecute us, whom we hate very much in our heart and mind,” he shares.

“I wanted to take revenge on them, but when I see from the Bible that persecution is part of a believer’s life, I learned that we need to accept whatever happens to us. So, that’s why I can forgive them, that’s why I can control my anger.”

Since then, he has committed to share what he has learned and teach the Word of God to others.

Cho refers to Acts 1:8 as his anchor: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

“In the books of Acts chapter 1 verse 8, it says we will be the witnesses to others. Witnesses in how we speak, how we act, how we live, in everything we do. Our lives are a witness. So, I must be a witness to others – it strengthens me to be able to teach others and lead others to God,” he says. 

The Joy of Fellowship

Cho also appreciates how the believers he meets travel far and wide to come together for the training – it’s not just him taking the dangerous journey, but the believers as well.

“When we are inviting people to come together in the training, there are 4 to 5 villages that come together. They also travel from their villages to the place where we are gathering for training, and they also face many challenges on the way. They need to cross military checkpoints to attend the trainings too!”

Group sitting at a table for Persecution Preparedness Training

“After traveling ten to twelve hours, when we finally meet each other, we are so very happy. They warmly welcome us and treat us well with the best of what they have. When we meet each other, I feel very happy.”

“When we see the people smiling and eagerly waiting for us, it strengthens me to be able to teach.”

For Cho, the risks are all worth it. “We love our people, so the things we know, we want to share with them. There is a burden in my heart to tell them. Even though the journey is hard, there is joy. I don’t consider it a problem because it is our burden to share what we have learned from the Word of God, and when we do it, when we obey, the burden becomes light.”

Your Prayers and Support Keep Cho Going

Prayers from Open Doors’ supporters have kept Cho going.

“Though we do not know them, though they do not know us, they are praying for us, and they are supporting us. We need to pray for them. We are encouraged by them, by the supporters who pray for us.

“My encouragement is that whether we are black or white, whether we are rich or poor, we are in the body of Christ, united with each other.”

His message to his prayer partners is this:

“Your prayers are our protection, and we feel your presence. Prayers back us up, push us during the journey, and encourage us to go on.”

two men on a motorbike with persecution preparedness training materials

*Name Changed For Secuirty

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